Mark Smith Says Reffing Roughly 300 UFC Fights in Three Years Helping Proficiency


Las Vegas, NV — Mark Smith was up for Referee of the Year at the 14th Annual World MMA Awards, and while he didn’t win (that honor went to Marc Goddard), he remains one of the best in the business.

Reffing in mixed martial art is not an easy job, with every stoppage heavily scrutinized by fighters, fans, and media. Luckily, over the course of the pandemic, those working under the Nevada Athletic Commission have been able to stay busy, which Smith tells Cageside Press has really helped.

“We’ve very fortunate here in Vegas where, we have had so many fights over the last three years, that that’s really helping with our proficiency. And I think at last count I’m going to be like over 300 fights, UFC fights, in the last three years,” Smith revealed during the World MMA Awards ceremony.

“Outside of that, my personal technique is, there are a lot of local gyms here in the [Las Vegas] area, like Syndicate and Xtreme Couture, and when they have so many extraordinary high level amateur and pro fighters, I’ll go in there, and the coaches allow me to get in there when they’re sparring.”

Smith also does this around the country, with permission from local commissions, treating sparring sessions like actual fights.

With the rise of social media, fans have their voices heard more than ever before. Asked if there was one thing he wished the public knew about what goes into a referee’s decision making process, Smith explained that “The rule set is the foundation for everything. So we try to keep a lot of subjectivity out of it by sticking with the Unified Rules of MMA. Now you have to be sharp on your feet as an official to make those on the spot calls, and safety, safety, safety is always going to be paramount. We have to consider the safety of the fighters.”

“As long as someone is intelligently defending themselves and keeping themselves in the fight, we’re going to try to make it exciting for the fans, the coaches, everyone involved,” Smith added. “So there’s a lot of thought process that goes into it.”

Watch our full interview with ref Mark Smith above.


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